what is a competitive mcat score

What Is A Competitive MCAT Score?

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The Medical College Admission Test or MCAT is a standardized examination needed for med school admissions in Canada or the United States. However, what is a competitive MCAT score that you need to qualify in med schools?

Preparing for the MCAT may be challenging, so having a target score can help you feel motivated to study. Fortunately, I will guide you through MCAT’s scoring guidelines and processes in this post.

Here are essential information about how the admissions committees will assess your answers, what scores you will need to place a good rank, and some tips on how you can ace the exam

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All You need to know about the MCAT diagnostic test

How Is The MCAT Scored?

After taking the examination, the admissions committees will most likely present you with four different elements that describe your performance. These things are as follows:


Generally, the number of your correct answers will be the primary basis of your scores. Note that the scoring process is similar in wrong and unanswered items.

Moreover, there is no penalty for answering questions incorrectly or leaving some items blank, unlike other standardized exams. However, it is best to have educated guesses in questions that you don’t know because every point matters.

After that, the committees will convert your raw points into scaled scores. For instance, you will receive a scaled score of 123 in one section if your correct answers are between 35 to 37. 

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The second element you will receive is your percentile rank. However, your raw scores will not be the basis for this one.

You can check your percentile according to the overall performance of all the MCAT test-takers. Your rank will reflect how well you did on the examination compared to those who also took it. 

Nevertheless, the basis of the percentile ranks can differ every year since it solely depends on the test-takers’ performances. For instance, here is the percentile rank for 2021-2022

Confidence Band

Next, the confidence band pertains to the range of the accuracy of your scores on the MCAT. This element can help different medical schools to get more accurate data on how you scored, considering the inherent flaws of the standardized exam.

Additionally, it can also encourage these schools to consider those test-takers who scored a few points close to each other similarly.

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Score Profile

Lastly, the score profile is the final part of your MCAT score. Each section of the examination will have its corresponding score profile.

This element can help you understand which sections were your weaknesses and strengths. You can know where to focus more if you want to retake the exam or improve your knowledge.

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What Is The Range Of MCAT Scores?

The MCAT does not use curves as the basis of your scores. The admissions committees will only use the scaled scores of the sections and the entire exam.

In this case, there will be a range of scores per section, which makes the total score when added. Here are the following:


The MCAT has four sections, including: 

  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (CPBS)
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (PSBB)
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (BBLS)
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS)

You can have a range of 118 to 132 points in each section. The middle point in this range will be 125.

Total Scores

On the other hand, a total score range of 472 to 528 can be attainable if you add the scores per section. The middle point will be 500.

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What Is A Competitive MCAT Score?

You will need to get no score below 127 points per section to achieve a competitive MCAT score. Your total score range should be between 508 to 513.

For instance, the following scores must be your scaled points in every section. 

  • MCAT CPBS: 127 to 128
  • MCAT CARS: 127 to 128
  • MCAT BBLS: 127 to 128
  • MCAT PSBB: 127 to 128

Achieving these scores can make you land on the 75th percentile rank, which is a highly competitive place. Nevertheless, you may also want to have higher scores to guarantee admission.

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Since most test-takers aim for the highest rank, I advise you to achieve a total score range of 514 to 528. It will make you be in the top 10% of applicants or the 90th to 100th percentile.

In this case, your scores per component should be:

  • MCAT CPBS: 129 to 132
  • MCAT CARS: 129 to 132
  • MCAT BBLS: 129 to 132
  • MCAT PSBB: 129 to 132

However, some factors may still affect your admission to certain medical schools. These factors may include exceptional achievements, letters of recommendation, and high GPAs.

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What Is A Poor MCAT Score?

A score range you always need to avoid is getting 499 points and below. It may be enough and acceptable to some medical schools, but it will most likely fall behind most MCAT test-takers.

In this case, you will need to study hard not to achieve a score of 124 and below per section

Aside from that, a total score range of 500 to 507 is also not advisable. You may be ahead of 50% of the test-takers, but it won’t guarantee admissions to highly competitive programs and schools.

Here are the score ranges per section to get 500 to 507 total scores.

  • MCAT CPBS: 125 to 126
  • MCAT CARS: 125 to 126
  • MCAT BBLS: 125 to 126
  • MCAT PSBB: 125 to 126

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Average MCAT Scores

The average for the MCAT is 125 per section and 500 as a whole. However, it is best not to depend on these average scores because you will have a lower chance of qualifying for the admissions.

Here are the lists of the average MCAT scores of applicants and matriculants to the United States MD-granting medical schools from 2021 to 2022. You can check these to know more!

Bonus: Want to learn how I got a 3.9 GPA in med school using a simple-to-follow study strategy? Get access to my exact study method from med school for free here. 

Average MCAT Scores Of Applicants

First, the applicants to US MD-granting medical schools have a total average score of 505.9. Their scores per section are as follows:

  • MCAT CPBS: 126.7
  • MCAT CARS: 125.7
  • MCAT BBLS 126.7 
  • MCAT PSBB: 127.3

Average MCAT Scores Of Matriculants

On the other hand, the matriculants garnered a total average score of 511.9. Their scores on each section are:

  • MCAT CPBS: 127.9
  • MCAT CARS: 127.0
  • MCAT BBLS: 128.2
  • MCAT PSBB: 128.8

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How To Get A Good MCAT Score

Here are eight tips I can give you to attain the best MCAT scores.

Tip #1 Create A Study Space

First, you may find a quiet place exclusive for your study sessions. It must be away from distractions.

Furthermore, a relaxing and positive ambiance may also boost your preparation attitude.

Tip #2 Organize Your Schedule

I recommend studying for three to six hours a day for three to six months. You may want to create a schedule depending on the MCAT sections that you need to focus on and improve.

It is also better to study more on the sections that you feel are less interesting

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Tip #3 Look For MCAT Prep Books And Videos

Your old science notes can help you somehow in preparing for the MCAT. However, it is better to find MCAT prep books and videos that can support you.

No worries because you can find many of them in different bookstores and libraries. You may also borrow some from your friends who have already taken the exam!

Tip #4 Jot Down Essential Notes

Taking notes of everything you learn every day is also the best way to remember them. You can use colored markers, pens, and highlighters for better retention.

FAQs On How To Study For Step 3

Tip #5 Search For Study Buddies Or Groups

You may find supportive and healthy companions to boost your preparation. You can help each other with things you cannot understand.

Additionally, study buddies also enhance your learning experiences.

Tip #6 Be An Active Reader

Active reading can boost your reading comprehension. Furthermore, it can also help you in the Creative Analysis and Reasoning Skills component.

You can find different articles related to science and health. Magazines, newspapers, and books are excellent sources of these!

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Tip #7 Do Not Overwork Yourself

It is always acceptable to take some rest while preparing for the MCAT. You need not overwork and force yourself to finish the entire prep material in one sitting.

Moreover, do not try to complete all the practice tests at once because it will only lead you to pressure and frustration.

Tip #8 Prepare Yourself Physically

Preparing your physical self is also essential. You will not be able to concentrate on getting excellent scores if your body and mind are not in good shape.

In this case, I advise you to engage in your hobbies, exercise, sports, and leisure. Getting enough sleep can help too!

Bonus: Want to learn how I got a 3.9 GPA in med school using a simple-to-follow study strategy? Get access to my exact study method from med school for free here. 

Passing the med schools’ admissions needs competitive MCAT scores of 127 to 132 points. It may be challenging to achieve, but it will be worth it!

I hope that this informative post has helped you have a target MCAT score. You can also use the tips I have written to make your preparation easier.

Whenever you’re ready, there are 4 ways I can help you:

1. The Med School Handbook:  Join thousands of other students who have taken advantage of the hundreds of FREE tips & strategies I wish I were given on the first day of medical school to crush it with less stress. 

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4. Learn the one study strategy that saved my grades in medical school here (viewed by more than a million students like you). 

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Until the next one my friend…

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